Stepping out of the airport, onto the grey pavement, into the yellow sun, following our shared taxi driver—what else is there like this? Every time I blinked, my eyes were swallowing something new. As we rushed over the highway toward Mandalay, I looked around in every direction.
The buildings grew taller and taller, and vehicles became traffic, which became more chaotic. I loved it. At once I could connect sights with familiar places and drink in everything as all new. After dumping our bags in our hotel room, I was raring to explore the city that evening on foot.
Darkness fell, but only after we explored the blocks surrounding our hotel – up to the fortress and down along the streets. We ate dinner at a Shan restaurant, where a waiter kindly laughed and mimed I should chomp a dessert I had been sucking my tea through.
The next day was a full one, filled with temples. My goodness, does Myanmar have temples. We first were driven to the top of Myanmar Hill, where we stood in a line for the elevator, barefooted, surrounded by throngs of people. It was a holiday, and the locals stood shoulder to shoulder with us as we crammed into the lift. The crowd didn’t thin out in the temple itself, but we wound our way around, casting our eyes about, for every which way there was an intricacy, a level of detail covering most inches of this huge space.
From there it was more temples, and a weaving factory, and a gold leaf factory, and lunch. Ben’s tealeaf rice? So good.
More temples, of course. We overlooked the Ayeryarwady River. We walked among Buddha after Buddha. Shoes on, shoes off. We filtered through the crowds and posed for photos with young and eager local girls. In between it all I sat in the back of the taxi with Ben, wiping the dirt off our feet and grinning at each other.
Toward evening, we went to U Bein bridge, the world’s longest teak bridge. It’s old and it shows; I felt a little nervous walking along with the hordes of people – mostly local tourists still – and glancing at the cracks under my feet. Some kids came up in shirts that proclaimed, “speak to me in English.” Their teacher explained they wanted to interview foreigners to improve their skills, so we obliged, withdrawing from the crowd to sit on a bench as we were asked our name and if we liked Myanmar. When we stood back up, it was time to cross back the way we came in time for sunset. Boats with tourists floated over the lake beneath us. The yellow orb of the sun sank lower and lower, silhouetting those on the bridge with their arms outstretched for selfies.
As the dark encompassed us, we went back to the hotel, setting down our cameras before heading out again in search of food on the city streets. Across from a mosque, in what appeared to be the Muslim quarter of town, we came across a chapati stand. Our food was served to us with an enormous grin and my face quickly matched our server’s as I took a taste.
That night in our hotel room, after our first full day in Myanmar, I could say without hesitation I was satisfied, excited, and – happy.
What wonderful photos, Leah. The last one across the bridge is very surreal.
Really enjoyed this, the photography is lovely! It made me look into Myanmar, a place I didn’t know much about before, it is now on my travel list, so thanks!
I absolutely loved my time in Myanmar and would spend more time there in a heartbeat. It surpassed all of my expectations, really. Hope you can get there sometime!
Beautiful pics – I thought Myanmar was great when I rode through; hope you continue to enjoy it!
Wow! That was a very interesting article to read since I’ll be in Mandalay in a week and a half. I definitely want to go on that bridge!
Yes, don’t miss out on U Bein. It’s crowded but worth it, I think. Have a lot of fun!
It look amazing
I like your pictures, they are so beautiful! :D Asia is so fascinating! – Would love to visit it one day! ;)
Beautiful. pictures. .
I very much enjoyed this. Great photos!
Wow I love your photos so much they are amazing!!! :-)
could not see a blog so perfect, simple and sophisticated….i adore this blogger…commendable photos..a blogger to follow
Wonderful description with photos. I also love travel, beautiful photos.
It is nice to see the pictures and how you are/ have experienced a side of Asian culture. I wonder how the trip has affected to your perspective? :)
More posts on my observations and thoughts to come! Thanks for reading.
Wonderful article with gorgeous pictures. Makes me want to travel “on the road to Mandalay”! Lori
fantastic! looking forward to more
looks amazing i hope to one day go travelling more
I love this! I am heading to Mexico Monday for some vacation time and even though I have been there so many times it still feels new every time I go! I will definitely be blogging about it so keep an eye out for my posts about Mexico! Happy Blogging.
This is very beautiful, both the writing and the photography. Thank you so much for sharing your journey.
Your enthusiasm for Myanmar is contagious — can’t wait to hear about more of your adventures and insights!
I love this! You put every tiny detail into this piece. The flow of it was very smooth and easy. Your pictures are awesome like food for my eyes-hehehe! My favorite part was the wiping of the dirt off your feet and grinning–how perfect… It makes me want to travel! Wonderful.
Thanks so much for the kind words!
Great pics… You are living The life…
If you like do check out my blog
You’ve got a great set of photos ~ and a great narrative of your fantastic travels to Mandalay. Nothing quite like Myanmar and you bring the magic with your writing and shots ~ I can hardly wait to return. Cheers to a great Year of the Monkey ahead.
Happy New Year to you, too! I can’t wait to return to Myanmar as well.
Hi Leah..I love the pics that you have uploaded..great compilation. I like the part of U bein bridge that you mentioned about how you struggled walking on bridge bare footed with every part of yours being fearful..i can see there are no bars or railings just supported by column wood logs..You have travelled across 23 countries, thats alluring..I wish I can be like you..I just keep my culinary journeys to Delhi itself but most probably will be increasing my travelling domain.. keep up the good work..Happy writing and clicking..
Now I know where to go for the holidays! This is beautiful.
Pictures are fantastic! Keep up the great work and have a gander at my exploits as well when you get the chance…!
beautiful, indeed. thank you
This post is outstanding! Absolutely breath taking photos!
Ur blog gives me serious wanderlust! I love it :)
I agree… beautiful!